The Arizona Cardinals pass rush has performed much better than expected over the first five weeks of the season. A unit that appeared to be severely undermanned has actually notched a respectable 15 sacks. Nevertheless, Cards general manager Monti Ossenfort could improve that area of the roster dramatically if he acquires a premier edge-rusher during the 2024 offseason.
At the moment, fan-favorite Dennis Gardeck is leading the Cardinals with four quarterback sacks. To say that no one could see that coming would be an understatement. Outside linebackers Zaven Collins and Victor Dimukeje have contributed 2.5 sacks each, and six additional Arizona defenders have all been credited with one.
Ossenfort will have several tempting options directly in front of him when the NFL's free-agent signing period gets underway next spring. Even more exciting is the fact that the Redbirds front office will have a ton of salary-cap space to work with in '24. A portion of that money should certainly be used on a player or two who can make life miserable for the opposition's signal-callers.
Arizona Cardinals could have their pick of several free-agent sack specialists in 2024
One of the more intriguing options on next year's market is Danielle Hunter, a 28-year-old who has spent his entire career with the Minnesota Vikings. The 6 foot 5, 263 pounder has recorded at least six sacks in every one of his eight professional campaigns. Over the past five weeks, Hunter has already amassed six quarterback takedowns for the Minnesota defense.
Another interesting possibility for the Cards is Za'Darius Smith, a 31-year-old who is currently employed by the Cleveland Browns. In 111 total appearances (68 starts), the 6 foot 4, 275 pounder has tallied 54.5 sacks. Besides the Browns, Smith has also suited up for the Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, and Vikings during his nine-year stint in the National Football League.
Back in 2019, prospective free agent Josh Allen was selected seventh-overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 62 career contests (48 starts), the 26-year-old has racked up an impressive 33.5 sacks. The 6 foot 5, 255 pound Allen would be a magnificent addition to a Cardinals defensive unit that would welcome his pass-rushing prowess with open arms.
One more edge rusher worth mentioning as an option for Arizona is Brian Burns, the 16th-overall choice of the Carolina Panthers back in '19. The 25-year-old has been incredibly productive during the 69 games (56 starts) he has suited up for since he turned pro. Burns is off to a phenomenal start with 42 sacks, and there's a very good chance that the Florida native will be even more valuable going forward.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)